A report by a TIME investigative report, Simon Shuster, has found that the recently launched Venezuelan cryptocurrency, the Petro, has ties back to Russia as a way to erode the power of US Sanctions on the South American country.
The report suggests that the Petro was, in fact, a collaboration- a half-hidden joint venture between Venezuelan and Russian officials and businessmen. It goes on to suggest that senior advisers to the Kremlin have overseen the effort in Venezuela, and President Vladimir Putin signed off on it last year.
Russia vs. US
Before the report was released which basically indicated that there was a battle going on between Russia and US through Venezuela, US President Donald Trump issued an executive order to ban the use of the Petro on his country's soil. This now seemingly looks like a counterstrike to Russia’s involvement.
The Petro has been spoken before as a way in which the government of Venezuela can get around the harsh US sanctions imposed upon them. Now it seems that this aspect of the Petro’s creation is true and runs much deeper than thought before.
Denis Druzhkov and Fyodor Bogorodsky are two of President Nicolas Maduro’s Russian advisors who sat front and center at the launch ceremony on Feb. 20.
Both men have ties to major Russian banks and billionaires close to the Kremlin. But they were not the most senior Russians involved. According to an executive at a Russian state bank who deals with cryptocurrencies, senior advisers to the Kremlin have overseen the effort in Venezuela, and President Vladimir Putin signed off on it last year.
“People close to Putin, they told him this is how to avoid the sanctions,” says the executive, who spoke to TIME on condition of anonymity. “This is how the whole thing started.”
A new political tool
It is interesting to note how cryptocurrencies, once only used and thought of within very small Internet circles are starting to emerge as important global, economic and political tools.
From the Russians allegedly using them as a way to defeat sanctions to the G20 Nations discussing them at one of the world’s biggest summits.
As their popularity grows and their influence becomes greater, it should indicate that there is more room for adoption and acceptance to also grow. These headline-making occurrences of cryptocurrencies in the global news prove that it is more than a passing fad.